Suitability: An Explanation Of What The Heck Is Going On With My Blog Template

[… for those who have wondered why things look different around here… and have taken the time to contact me about said… allow me to explain…]

Having the right look for my blog is important to me .  In fact, since I started this sweet little bloggy last January, I’ve had four different [free] templates. 

Let’s review, shall we?

#1  The one with the glowing orange candle up top.  It is called Coraline & described by WordPress key words thusly–  clean, conservative, generic, light, minimal. Yep, it was.  But in the end, it was not me.  So I moved on.

#2  The one with the lonely little pine cone up top.  It is called Pilcrow & described by WordPress key words thusly– clean, conservative, formal, generic, light, minimal, simple.  Again, yep it was.  But it had some features that I didn’t like, so I moved on.  [Also, I accidentally deleted it late one Friday afternoon.  There was drama.  There was swearing.  We’re not going to re-hash that event here.]

#3  The one with the bunch of bananas up top.  It is called Fruit Shake & described by WordPress key words thusly– artistic, colorful, faded, whimsical, yellow.  Again, let me confirm that this was an accurate description.  However, its cheeriness drove me bonkers and the way it scrunched up my words on the page was difficult to read.  So I moved on.

#4  The one with the big black rectangle up top.  It is called Quintus & described by WordPress key words thusly– calligraphic, elegant, formal, nostalgic, retro, textured, traditional.  Yep, it is.  And of all the ones I’ve tried, this one is the easiest to use, the most clear to read and the least annoying for me to look at.  In fact, a further description of it says:

“A theme that has an old-style appeal with semi-academic graciousness and elegant typography. Fitting for displaying either text or images, Quintus offers a fresh look with room for customization….” 

Now this is a look and description I like.  So I’ve stayed here.

Why have I been changing my template so often? 

While my academic background is in words/relationships/communication, my later-in-life inclination is in images/color/design.  The result is that I like to change things around and that I’m never satisfied with how things look… until I am.  All this trial and error here is really just me attempting to find the most suitable look for my sweet little bloggy.  Which I think I have with this gracious, elegant, fresh template.

At least for the moment.  😉


This & That

{august – monday – late afternoon}

√  No, I haven’t lost my mind.  Yet.

On Friday, after I wrote and published my earlier post, I did something really annoying; I accidentally deleted my blog template.  Not the blog contents, mind you– just the template.  So, I had to find myself a new template– right quick, as they say.  And this little banana number is the one that I picked.

It’s kind of cheerful, don’t you think?  And the price is right– as in FREE.

Someday I’ll work on putting together a more appropriate header, but until that magic day arrives I plan on sticking with this bunch of bananas.

√   The Big Dig continues.

The landscape crew is here today planting bushes & shrubs & perennials & who knows what else.  This project has dragged on for so long now, with so many revisions, that I no longer know [or care] what is being planted.  I’m beginning to think of Greg, the land planner guy in charge of this project, as my very own Eldon.

Did Eldon ever finish painting Murphy’s townhouse?  Will Greg ever finish creating a backyard for us?  Stay tuned to find out.

√  I want to paint the hutch that is in our dining room.

(Actually, to be entirely accurate and forthcoming, it isn’t a hutch– it’s a pie safe.  But no one knows what that is, so I’ve taken to calling it a hutch.)

The “hutch” has scratches, gouges and is a dreary dark brown color.  Not pretty at all. But what color should I paint it?  Therein lies the problem.

So I’ve spent much of this afternoon looking online at photos of hutches.  I now can say that my head is swimming with possibilities— none of which seem quite right to me, but all of which are quite lovely to look at in someone else’s home.

I was hoping that after an hour or two of online research, I’d  find the perfect hutch– painted the perfect color– and it’d become my inspiration.  Which would give me the confidence to go forward with this messy, labor-intensive project.

But no such luck.  Yet.

Retro Blogging: Adding Whimsy To Your Week

::  I crack myself up.  I got this idea from The Bloggess.  Zen-Den thinks that I have a future career as a banana engraver.

::  Anyone else remember back to when bloggers did silly things like this all the time?  I miss those times.

::  Do You Make Other People Happy?  I try, kids.  I try.

Rambling Thoughts From A Sleepless Night

~ I rarely have insomnia, but last night I did not sleep.  Too hot and humid outside.  Too noisy and AC-y inside.  I just couldn’t get comfy, so… 

•  I got up and surfed the internet until the battery in my notebook died– which was 2.25 hours.  I decided to go back to many of the new-to-me blogs where I’ve left comments over the past few months.  It takes quite a bit of focus and prayer for me to reach out to strangers and leave them a comment.  I know that comments are a good way of making friends in the blogosphere and I want to have more bloggy friends.  So I take a deep breath, write something sincere, and push “publish.”

It’s not easy for me, but I do it.

Checking back to see how well-received my comments were, I discovered that 40% of the new-to-me bloggers responded back to me – yeah!  40% of the new-to-me bloggers said nothing – hmm?  And 20% of the new-to-me bloggers didn’t even allow my comment to show up on their blogs – ouch!

•  After the battery went dead in my notebook I just wandered around the inside of the house in the dark, looking out the windows at nature and moonlight and total stillness.  I like doing this because it centers me in the moment, encourages me to look within.  I used to always get up early to do this, but fell out of the habit at some point.

While I was moseying around I got thinking about my health.  I’ve just finished a battery of annual tests and am quite healthy, thank you very much.  The only issue is that my cholesterol is a bit high.

Just something more to be aware of, I guess.

As I don’t know of anyone who eats meat who doesn’t have slightly elevated cholesterol, I’m rather “whatever” about this fact.  I figure that some small changes in my diet and a bit more exercise will fix this issue.  I avoid pharmaceuticals at all costs, so I will take on the challenge of making myself better all by myself.  No pills for me, says the doctor’s daughter.

•  Around 5:30 a.m. I decided it was time to make a pot of coffee and get on with the day.  After the elixir of life brewed, I poured myself a large mug of it and went outside to sit on the deck.  Morning was just starting to grace the sky with streaky, pink clouds and yellowish bursts of weak sunlight.  There were bats flying around everywhere– and birds chirping about something of [presumably] birdy importance.

I like our deck because it looks into the forest prime evil primeval
that leads to the ravine behind our house.  But this morning I was a bit wistful as I looked at the natural mess that is back there.  In a couple of weeks, we will have a new backyard.

Change is good.  And inevitable when you live on a hillside.

The backyard project will put in place a poured concrete landscaping wall.  Then about 28 tons of dirt will be hauled in to level off some of the land.  After that, the landscapers will plant lots of bushes in a visually pleasing, manicured way– which will transform our backyard into a more useable, but decidedly less rustic, place to be.

~ I’ve got nothing more to add to this post.  Morning is here and I’m ready to get on with my day.  I kind of wonder how productive I’ll be today, but figure that I’ll give it my best shot.  Some days “good enough” is the new “perfect.”

Our Weekend

Fun.  Lots of newness.  Much happy.

√  Set up our new computer, an iMac.  My first new desktop computer in 8 years.  Rather spiffy.

√  Got together on Saturday with some out-of-town friends who were here for the day.  Lots of laughs and our first visit to the oldest farmers market in the area.  Rather amazing.

√  “Created” a new cocktail.  Sweet tea + bourbon + a spring of mint.  Rather refreshing.

√  Put finishing touches on the paint job in the un-bedroom.  Means that after 3 years we are officially finished with repainting the entire inside of this house– and can reclaim our weekends.  Rather wonderful.

√  Changed my blog template to this more up-to-date one that you’re now seeing.  Rather dashing.

√  Started reading two amazing memoirs.  One with an artistic/scientific bent, the other with a celebrity/humanitarian bent.  Can’t decide which one to finish first so I keep switching back and forth between them.  Rather compelling. 

√  Decided to tidy up my twitter feed by deleting most of my tweets.  Have adopted a “less is more” approach regarding my future tweeting.  Rather liberating.

So how was your weekend?  Care to share?

Regarding Personal Style

I met a friend for dinner.  She arrived rocking the 1970s style trend that’s so popular now.  She looked perfectly at ease in that era’s clothes;  but then I realized that she always looks perfectly at ease no matter what she’s wearing.  So I asked her: “how do you always know what to wear to look good all the time?”

I figured that her answer would be about fashion magazines, long shopping trips to the mall and personal shoppers.

But instead, she seemed dumbfounded by my question.  And her answer made me laugh.  As she looked down to see what she had on, she told me that she had no idea what she was wearing.  She said that she just bought whatever was in the stores when she walked in– or online when she got around to shopping for clothes and accessories.

No planning.  No stress.  No external manifestation of deeper inner meaning. Just whatever.  “I’m too busy to keep up with fashion,” she told me.  “Do I have a style?”

I assured her that she did, and explained it to her.  She thought about what I’d said, agreed with me, and then asked me: “How do you know about all this?  Where are you getting this from?”

My answer was easy: “I read blogs.”  Blogs written by women with professional backgrounds in fashion who work as stylists.  Woman who are active amateurs with a passion for fashion.  Woman who dress well and like to share what they’ve figured out along the way.  All sorts of women.  All ages of women.  All kinds of styles.

Naturally, she wanted to know specifically what I was reading, so I told her.

When I got home I realized that a list of personal style/fashion bloggers would make a good and useful addition to my “Wonderful Blogs To Read” tab.  [Look up– white letters in the black line– kind of middle to right-ish– the one at the end.  Yep, that’s it.]  So I added a section to my blog roll that lets you, my gentle readers, know my current fav blogs.

Check it out, why don’t you?  You know you want to look good.  🙂  [Please note: fashion blogs on my blogroll deleted 10.11.  No longer interested in them.  Learned enough, I guess.]

Blogging: Then And Now

Subtitled: In Which I Explain How I Came To Be A Blogger

Sub-Subtitled: Blame It On The Dirt

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I read my first blog in the summer of 1997.  I was searching online {pre-Google} for info on gardening in clay dirt when I stumbled across this unique website by a regional gardener/college prof.  The website was called a weblog and I was amazed to discover that this weblog was updated on a weekly basis.  I could return to the site every week and learn something new!

I was smitten: info, updates & a bit of personality.  Yes!  This was my kind of place.

###

But then my life got very busy and I forgot about weblogs.  In the fall of 2002 I read an article in a newspaper that linked to these new things called blogs— which I instantly realized were more advanced versions of the gardening weblog that I’d loved years before.  According to the newspaper article people were writing personal blogs that they filled like a diary or a scrapbook.  Then they shared their blogs with the world– and encouraged their readers to leave comments.  

Comments, I wondered?  What might this be?  So I followed the links in the newspaper and discovered that people were indeed now keeping daily blogs– and that readers were leaving their 2¢ on the blogs in a place called comments.

I was re-smitten: info, updates & a bit of personality combined with the ability to talk with people all over the world.  What was not to love?

###

Soon thereafter I jumped into blogging.  First, I commented and emailed with bloggers I found {mostly by spending hours surfing the pre-Blogher net}.  Then, on the advice of a blogger friend, I started my own blog– which turned out to be a huge challenge to create and a great deal of fun to keep.  However, after about four years of being a daily blogger, I was tired of keeping a blog so I let it go and walked away from the blogosphere.

###

Fast forward to the winter of 2011 when I decided that it was time for me to get back into blogging.   Much had changed in my life– and in the blogosphere– so I decided to start this blog with the understanding that I’d not post on a daily basis and that I’d write about whatever interests me in the moment.  Just because I could.

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IMHO, the coolest thing about blogging is– and always has been– that with a bit of desire and gumption anyone can have a blog.  That’s what hooked me on blogging in the first place.  Personal expression + instant connection.   

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Blogging has changed along the way into something more polished and more organized than the early versions that I fell in love with.  Having recently re-entered the blogosphere, I see four things about blogging that surprise me.  Whether they are idiosyncratic to my experiences or the norm, I could not say;   I’ll leave that for others to figure out.  All I know is that things are not as they once were– and I’m cool with that.

  1. Blogs all look very pretty now.  In fact, in the process of setting up this blog I have not once used a piece of code.  Amazing.  I spent hours & hours & hours working on the code to get my first blog to look passible.  Now, pretty is a given.
  2. Blogs are all classified into niches.  I’ve found very few generalists like myself.  Instead, everyone who keeps a blog is [or wants to be] an authority on one specific subject.  I see nothing wrong with this, but realize that connecting with other bloggers is more difficult because of it.  Blogging is not as open and free-form as it once was.
  3. Most blogs are monetized now.  That was a new concept when I left the blogosphere, but today it is ubiquitous.  I understand the reason why people are trying to make money off of their blogs.  However, adverts and product placements put a different vibe into the blogging mix;  one that wasn’t there years ago when people blogged just for the fun of it.
  4. Many blogs do not seem to want commenters– as much as followers.  I see a shift away from the comment section as a cocktail party {with everyone chatting it up & discussing all sides of an issue} to the comment section as standing in line at the coffee shop {with casual, polite encounters & indifferent shrugs}.  It’s a different take on what it means to connect and communicate with others.  I get it, but it has taken me awhile to adapt to this more reserved approach to commenting.

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I feel fortunate that I discovered blogging early on and allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to give it a try.  It has evolved so far from my first encounter with it in 1997– and I couldn’t be happier.  Yet different as it is now, the basic concept remains the same: info, updates & a bit of personality.

Yep, I’m still-smitten… after all these years.